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January/February 1998

Project Lo
Black Canvas
Lolo Records

Easily the most absorbing album in this month's crop, Project Lo's Black Canvas (LoLo Records LOLO 008-2; 49:48) mixes world beat textures and ambient sound akin to art house rockers like Brian Eno or Laurie Anderson into a darkly mysterious musical environment. Inspiring guitarist and composer Bon Lozaga (known for the harder-edged ensemble Gongzilla) leads the way through pieces that get under your skin, like "Rajah," which is at once dissonant and poetic, beautiful and somehow disturbing. Lozaga, violinist Caryn Lin and bassist Percy Jones form the sonic core, hitting emotional point-and-counterpoint on songs like "Retribution"-but for Project Lo's sophomore release, Lozaga adds a new dimension to his post-modern chamber ensemble with vocalist Happy Rhodes, another avant garde favorite. Her deeply haunting read of Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street" holds an even greater feel of mystery and loss than the original. Rhodes also builds on Lozaga's rhythmic circles in "Perfection," cross-cutting intriguing lyrics and a dark melody line with beautifully layered, Kate Bush-like harmonies, and meshing perfectly with Lin's violin line. The many layers of Lozaga's Black Canvas demand full attention, and repeated listenings to take in the whole.

Originally published in January/February 1998
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